YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A USS Kitty Hawk sailor arrested Monday after a car crash that killed a local man will remain in Japanese custody for several more days at least, according to a Kitty Hawk spokesman.

Lt. Brook Dewalt said Wednesday that Yokosuka authorities were sending a letter to inform the Navy that Petty Officer 2nd Class Joel Beza would remain in Japanese custody for longer than the initial three-day period they’re authorized to hold a suspect without bringing charges.

Japanese authorities may extend that period, with a judge’s approval, for another 10 days. They then may extend another 10 days, again with a judge’s approval.

“They’ll turn him over to us potentially during that [first] 10-day period,” Dewalt said. Dewalt said he didn’t know why Beza was being retained but that it was not unusual.

Beza has been in pre-indictment custody at the Yokosuka Pretrial Detention Facility since his arrest about 10:30 p.m. Monday, after his car collided with that of Kenichi Kinoshita, 64, at an intersection about six miles south of the base. Kinoshita, of Yokosuka City, died of chest injuries at a local hospital about an hour later.

Yokosuka police said it appeared Beza had run a red light.

They said if an investigation determined Beza was reckless or negligent, he could be indicted and tried on charges that, were he convicted, could bring a maximum 10 years in prison.

Beza has been visited by a chaplain and Kitty Hawk legal representative, Dewalt said. He’s been cooperative, Dewalt said, and would visit the Kinoshita family when he’s released from custody to express remorse, in the Japanese tradition. Japanese police said Beza had apologized to the family shortly after the crash.

Capt. Tom Parker, the Kitty Hawk commander, issued a statement of regret and sympathy Tuesday to Japanese newspapers.

Yokosuka police said it appeared Beza was alcohol-free on the night of the collision, significant because Japan reserves its harshest penalties for those who cause a fatal crash while drunk.

Two people were injured in the crash: a petty officer third class from the Kitty Hawk who was riding with Beza and an eight-year-old boy in a car struck by Kinoshita’s after it was hit. Both were expected to recover within two weeks.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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